September 23, 2011

Was Obama’s ‘Intercontinental Railroad’ Reference Lifted from Previous Identical NYT Errors?

LastRailTransConRRIt’s probably not much of a stretch to believe that Barack Obama and his speechwriters frequently peruse the New York Times in print or online.

Their likely affinity for the Times may explain why the President referred to the “intercontinental railroad” in his speech yesterday in Cincinnati near the Brent Spence Bridge:

Now, we used to have the best infrastructure in the world here in America. We’re the country that built the Intercontinental Railroad, the Interstate Highway System.

Of course, “intercontinental” means “between or among continents; involving two or more continents.” The railroad to which the President referred was actually the “Transcontinental Railroad.”

It turns out that the President’s gaffe is one which New York Times writers have committed frequently enough that one can believe that Team Obama picked it up from them, as seen in the results of this Times search on “intercontinental railroad” (in quotes). Four of the five erroneous uses of the term have occurred since Barack Obama took office:

  • In February 2009 at the Economix Blog (“Revenge of the Rust Belt”), Harvard professor Edward L. Glaser wrote: “As the Rust Belt declined, the Sun Belt grew. An intercontinental railroad, the Panama Canal and then the highway system made the West Coast accessible, and people flocked to warmer weather.”
  • In June 2010 in an Artsbeat column, Allison Amend, who took pride in being an NPR listener, wrote of “the construction and subsequent development of the intercontinental railroad.”
  • In November 2010 (“One Way to Trim Deficit: Cultivate Growth”), Times Economics writer David Leonhardt (who, as an aside, imagined that the manufacturing sector of the economy was in recession in February 2007 when it wasn’t) wrote that “Federal science dollars, meanwhile, led to the creation of the intercontinental railroad, the airline industry, the microchip, the personal computer, the Internet and numerous medical breakthroughs.” By the way, the “federal science dollars” which Leonhardt says led to the transcontinental railroad came from “high- caliber engineering training programs funded by the United States Army” — presumably provided by colleges. That’s like crediting the government for inventions developed by students benefiting from the GI Bill. Give me a break, David.
  • Finally, in a role reversal, on January 26, 2011 (“After Detour, a Map of America’s Journey”), Matt Bai described the President’s State of the Union speech — “Mr. Obama delivered a narrative of American life that evoked images of Depression-era murals and cold-war newsreels, rather than hammering away at specific laws he had passed or planned to propose. He harked back to sputnik, the Apollo project and the intercontinental railroad.” Trouble is, in the actual SOTU speech (text; video), Obama correctly referred to the “transcontinental railroad.” In this case, the Times made a correction.

Remember these examples the next time liberal elites at the Times, in academia, or in the Obama administration try to pretend that they are presumptively better than their readers, students, and the governed, respectively.

Cross-posted at

TIB Radio Is On

Filed under: News from Other Sites — Tom @ 6:17 pm

It’s here for listening, here for viewing the Live Blog. We’ll be on until 9 p.m., possibly later.


Some discussed links:

  • Mark at WoMD — “ObamaCare: White House Emails Reveal Accounting Fraud” (relating to the CLASS Act)
  • AP — “Obama administration shelves long-term care plan”
  • Washington Examiner, via Congressman Tim Huelskamp — “Obamacare HHS rule would give government everybody’s health records”
  • Washington Examiner, via ConnCarroll — “Ryan to put ‘replace’ back in ‘repeal and replace”
  • Sherrod Brown press release — “Brown Joins Unemployed Worker in Cleveland to Call for Swift Passage of Legislation Outlawing Discriminatory Hiring Practices”

Rising Cain? Please Let It Be So

Filed under: Economy,Immigration,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 5:11 pm

From Tony Lee at Human Events, reacting to last night’s debate:

Can Herman Cain start gaining momentum?

If Perry keeps faltering and voters do not warm to Romney, could Herman Cain become a viable contender? His positive intensity score, as measured by Gallup, remains at the head of the field despite his name recognition registering below those of the front-runners. His “9-9-9″ economic plan is catching on, as is his inspirational life story. Cain survived cancer, pulled himself up from his humble roots, and turned around franchises many thought would fail. Further, Cain combines substance with flair while mixing in a host of anecdotes that illustrate broader points he tries to make. For instance, he will tell the story of speaking to children at a lemonade stand and teasing them if they had the proper permits to make the broader point about excessive government regulation in the private sector, of which he was a part–unlike President Obama. Or he will electrify audiences by telling the story of his grandfather who took bumpy roads to bring potatoes from the farm to the market so that the big potatoes would rise to the top to illustrate the point that changing the culture in Washington will not be easy, but could be done with his practical experience in the private sector.

If given time to tell his story and offer his solutions, Cain has all the ingredients to catch fire, and that is why he is perhaps the most undervalued out of all the candidates at this time. It will be interesting to see if voters who intensely like him view him as “presidential” enough to flock to his side.

Rick Perry shows signs of implosion on immigration. Mitt Romney has long since proven that he is objectively unfit. The rest of the field is not meaningfully distinguishing themselves (yes, that includes Ron Paul). That would appear to leave the main refrain in the hands of Cain.


UPDATE: Glenn Beck observes

Perry vs. Romney = 2012 depression

Watching Perry and Romney bicker over who said what in their books was not exactly the inspiring talk conservatives want to hear. It’s petty but worse yet – it reveals that each have far too much in common with Barack Obama, leaving many conservatives feeling like it’s prom and they don’t have a date.

UPDATE 2: Erick Ericksen

Herman Cain Won the Debate

Rick Perry was a train wreck in this debate. He flubbed his response on Romney flip-flopping. He got the first question tonight and stumbled. Good grief.

Romney did so much better than Perry. So much better. But I still cannot believe these candidates have pulled their punches on Romneycare. He’s getting a free pass on it. But his answers on so many questions, while smoothly delivered, were Democrat like.

The winner is Herman Cain. The audience loved him. Other than his question on Israel, Cain’s answers really were out of the park awesome. He provided the most uplifting moments and the most memorable lines, with substance included.

Mona Charen: ‘Ohio has good chance to knock off a super-liberal’

Filed under: Economy,Ohio Politics,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:07 pm

The headline should replace “super” with “fever-swamp.” Ms. Charen’s analysis is, hopefully, quite accurate (bolds are mine):

Ohio, where first-term Sen. Sherrod Brown is seeking re-election, is considered a “lean Democratic” race.

Brown has won one contest already: the race to the left. When the National Journal rated U.S. senators, Brown was ranked as “most liberal,” beating out even Socialist Bernie Sanders for the honor.

As in 2000, 2004 and 2008, Ohio is likely to be a key swing state in the presidential contest, so the Senate race assumes even more importance. And that race is shaping up to be a classic liberal/conservative clash.

Brown’s likely opponent, Josh Mandel, has served two tours in Iraq as a Marine intelligence specialist, one while a sitting member of the Ohio legislature. For Mandel, the grandson of Holocaust survivors, the blessings of liberty are not just an abstraction.

Mandel has been a lawyer, a councilman, a member of the Ohio legislature, a U.S. Marine, and Ohio’s state treasurer. He boasts that when he first ran for the Ohio legislature (in a 2-1 Democratic district), he knocked on 19,679 doors, wearing out three pairs of shoes. When he swears that no one will outwork him, you believe.

He speaks with energy and philosophical clarity, and Ohio’s Republicans are smitten. As a young councilman, he helped push through a property tax reduction for Lyndhurst, Ohio, the first in history.

He believes in free-market capitalism, exploitation of Ohio’s (and the nation’s) supplies of coal, gas and oil, and limited government. He is pro-life, pro-traditional marriage and pro-Israel.

In an election where the economy will be the predominant issue, Sherrod Brown’s Club for Growth ratings during his first four years in the Senate are: 2007 – 0%; 2008 – 13%; 2009 – 0%; 2010 – 0%. His lifetime percentage, which presumably includes his congressional terms, is 4%.

Anyone raising the issue of Mandel’s promise to serve out his term as Ohio Treasurer deserves a two-word, end-of-discussion response: “Barack Obama” –

Mandel is more qualified in political and real-world experience to be President right now than Barack Obama was at the time he made his statement.

Sherrod Brown cast the the final vote in support of the now-demonstrably failed stimulus. He believes that unemployment benefits represent “the best stimulus.” He’s clueless, and in November 2012, he needs to be driven from the Senate.

Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (092311)

Filed under: General — Tom @ 11:11 am

I’m going to try an experiment here.

If you have something to say about the content of a post or have something that extends its points, by all means comment at that post. I’ll generally be lenient about whether a comment is really on-topic, but if it’s obviously not, I retain the perogative to nuke it without notification.

If your comment doesn’t relate to any post, please post it here. But do NOT (repeat, NOT) post full articles as “comments.” For copyright- and readability-related reasons, limit excerpts to usually up to six but occasionally up to nine paragraphs. Any comment violating this guideline will get nuked before it appears without notification (unless I have time and feel extraordinarily polite).

As usual, I retain the discretion to allow comments to get posted or prevent them from being posted, and my allowing a comment to be posted doesn’s mean I agree with or endorse it.

Sloat Scoop: Ohio Actively Pursuing Wilmington ‘Aerotropolis’ (‘China Hub’)

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:19 am

At his Daily Bellwether blog, retired Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter and Cincinnati-area resident Bill Sloat has scooped the Ohio media on a story which could have tremendous impact in Southwest Ohio, but which comes with a number of troubling questions and issues (some paragraph breaks added by me):

‘China Hub’ Airpark With 10,000 Jobs May Be Headed To SW Ohio: Cincinnati Gains From Missouri’s Turmoil?

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican conservative who once said he was “tea party before there was a tea party,” might be looking at landing the largest economic development project in recent state history. And it all seems to be happening because of fellow conservatives in Missouri.

They are balking at approving about $400 million in state tax credits for the “China Hub,” a Chinese-St. Louis air cargo corridor that is supposed to terminate at Lambert Airport. It is envisioned as opening a massive new international trade gateway with the giant Asian economy. St. Louis business interests and economic development officials were predicting up to 10,000 new jobs, along with warehouses and other spinoffs. In effect, it would be a port, and it has a grand name: “Aerotropolis.” Not quite the Panama Canal, but a huge trade deal..

Suddenly, the fallout in Missouri has given Ohio an opening to grab it. Economic development officials in Cincinnati are trying to offer the project a home in Ohio, and they are pointing to Wilmington, where DHL abandoned its giant air cargo airport two years ago. It is sitting there waiting. State officials are also in on the action. The word in Jefferson City, Missouri’s capital, is that SW Ohio and Denver have emerged as potential sites for the China Hub.

When The Daily Bellwether called a well-placed Cincinnati City Hall source Thursday, the source said:

“We’re going after this. The Kasich people, the Chamber, we’re all moving. Is anything going to happen? I think some doors are open to us that weren’t until a few days ago. We can give it a home in Wilmington at a place where people want jobs and an airport is empty and waiting. Will it happen? It seems to be up to the people in Missouri. All of a sudden, they seem to hate tax incentives. …”

It looks like the best recent work relating to Ohio’s competitive status is being done by a local television station — in Missouri.

On Wednesday, KPLR reported that “Projects in both Ohio and Colorado have been launched to land the cargo hub in those locations if work in the Missouri legislature stalls out.”

Before that, on September 14 (“China-Hub Could Bolt For Better Deals In Ohio And Colorado”), the station reported in print that “The cities of Cincinnati, Dayton, and Columbus have completed a study on using an airport in Wilmington, Ohio as an China cargo hub.” In the accompanying video at the link, a Missouri development representative told the station:

Last week saw a coalition of Cincinnati, Dayton, and Columbus announced the completion of a master plan which they began I believe after the legislation failed here in May.

How did this “announcement” not get into Ohio media news reports? Did the dog eat their press releases? Or is the “coalition” being secretive and pretending not to be?

A September 10 Associated Press story (“States rethinking tax credits as job creation tool”) laid out the nature of the Missouri situation:

Perhaps nowhere is the tax credit tension more evident than in Missouri, where lawmakers have convened a special session to consider scaling back several existing tax credits in order to finance new tax incentives targeting a variety of business interests – from Chinese cargo planes to computer data centers, high-tech companies and even the organizers of major sporting events.

Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon and Republican legislative leaders tout it as one of the most far-reaching job-creation packages being considered among states. But it faces opposition from some lawmakers who see it as the latest give-away of taxpayer dollars to big businesses at the expense of school children, the disabled and elderly.

“There is a tension between just about everybody,” said Sen. Chuck Purgason, a Republican who has wavered on whether to back the Missouri plan. “You’ve got core Republican principles that government doesn’t create jobs – the private sector creates meaningful jobs – and what you need is broad-based tax reform.”

One contributor to the “tension” would seem to be the air of mystery concerning China and others involved.

As is the case with virtually all major businesses in the Mainland, China Eastern Airlines is majority-owned by the Chinese government. Even if you ignore its communist nature, this control potentially allows political considerations to trump economic ones. The firm’s cargo subsidiary already ships to Chicago, which would seem to beg questions as to how much it really needs St. Louis, and how vulnerable St. Louis would be if China’s economy stumbles.

Yesterday, local TV station KMOV (“China Hub consultant reimbursed for $192,000 in expenses”) reported on the excessive spending habits of Stephen Perry, a representative of London Export Corporation (LEC). LEC’s web site describes itself as having “offices in London, Hong Kong and Beijing, and has a presence in St Louis, Missouri, USA.” The web site doesn’t identify members of the firm’s “Team,” and its “News and Information” page is moribund. Geez, who are these guys?

Additionally, a St. Louis station reported on September 13 that “Members of the citizens’ group K & N Patriots are opposed to the plan. They said they will be in Jefferson City to protest.” The station describes K & N as a “Tea Party group,” but K & N’s web site cautions that it “is not affiliated with any political Party or organization though some may view its policies to be in sympathy with ‘Tea Party’ views. … To assume that K & N Patriots as an organization has a formal affiliation of any kind with any political party or any other organization is incorrect.”

Nonetheless, the objection of involved citizen activists in Missouri is duly noted. Additionally, the state’s free market-oriented Show-Me Institute (here concerning job addition estimates ranging from 3,000 to 32,000; and here concerning the lack of an objective feasibility study) has serious problems with the deal.

Clearly, the retired Sloat has his ear closer to the ground than Ohio media reporters who are supposed to be earning their pay by surfacing news for a living. Yesterday, I searched for any indication of a story on the China hub at the Cincinnati Enquirer and the Columbus Dispatch, or for an Ohio-based story in Google News, and found nothing.

I’m certainly sympathetic to the plight of Clinton County and its economy since DHL left. But even before getting into possibly relevant additional issues like fair trade and national security, should Ohio really be so willing to cough up $360 million (that’s the amount, as of Wednesday, that Missouri’s proponents were pushing for) or more? Is this really worth it? How do they know?


UPDATE: Speaking of Wilmington and predictions of success, I came across a revealing 2004 item on what Ohio did when DHL took over the old Airborne Express (“DHL Spending $1.2B to Bulk Up U.S. Presence”) –

This time around, Ohio offered DHL an incentive package that was valued at more than $422 million.

State subsidies include $300 million in tax-exempt bonds. Those state-backed bonds allow DHL to secure lower-than-normal interest rates. DHL’s assistance includes another $122 million in tax incentives and roadwork. One of those roads is a bypass around Wilmington that Clinton County was already planning. The Ohio Department of Transportation will now take over bypass design and construction. In exchange for the state’s aid, DHL committed to create 600 full-time and 300 part-time jobs while investing at least $295 million in the Wilmington hub.

Five years later, the Wilmington facility closed. Can anyone really say that the $422 mil was economically worth it? Was there any kind of monetary clawback from DHL?


UPDATE, Sept. 24, 12:45 a.m.: The latest from the St. Louis business paper — “Lambert welcomes first Chinese cargo flight as Aerotropolis sputters”

Passage of the Day: Daniel Henninger on ‘The Tax Morass’

Filed under: Economy,Quotes, Etc. of the Day,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:24 am

From Daniel Henninger, in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal (bolds are mine):

When John Kennedy became president, the top marginal individual rate was 91%. But the tax code was littered with loopholes—for a reason. With such high rates, tax breaks were the only way the economy could function. Kennedy got rid of loopholes and dropped the top rate to 70%. Barack Obama wants to get rid of loopholes and raise rates.

The president’s “pass-this-now” list targets tax preferences for the oil, gas, coal and insurance industries, plus an array of cats-and-dogs accounting rules and international tax practices. All these should be bargaining chips in a larger, more economically productive tax reform.

The Obama proposal would leave the current anti-growth tax morass intact, other than the higher taxes and the Buffett Rule. What he wants are wealth taxes, period. If he got that, does anyone believe he’d revisit reform in a second term?

Of course not.

Positivity: UW-Madison Catholic student group wins $500,000 in legal costs

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:32 am

From Madison, Wisconsin:

Sep 21, 2011 / 05:51 am

The University of Wisconsin at Madison must pay $500,000 in legal costs to the university’s Catholic group after a court ruled that it wrongly denied student funds to the group.

“Universities should recognize the constitutional rights of Christian students and ministries just as they do for all other students and campus groups,” said Jordan Lorence, senior counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund, which filed the lawsuit.

“Sadly, the University refused to do so, and instead squandered money by trying to defend the indefensible: blatant, unlawful discrimination against Christian students and ministries.”

In September 2010 the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that university officials violated the First Amendment by funding the events of other student organizations but refusing to fund certain events of Badger Catholic, a registered student group then known as the Catholic Foundation.

In 2007 the university refused to grant the group a portion of student activity fees. The university refused about $35,000 of a $253,000 request. It argued that the funding of an organization which runs evangelistic training camps and spiritual retreats amounted to an illegal endorsement of religion.

Some of the group’s activities, including its retreats, were on hold while the case advanced through the courts.

“The payment is not the issue; I’m just relieved that this has finally come to a close and that this is resolved in a way that really affirmed Badger Catholic’s original position,” Nico Fassino, president of Badger Catholic, told the university student newspaper The Daily Cardinal.

He said the ruling will allow religious student organizations across the United States to deepen their level of services to students.

The appeals court’s decision said the university “has created a public forum where the students, not the University, decide what is to be said. And having created a public forum, the University must honor the private choice.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.